Film Review: 7 September
A familiar tale of smug marrieds falling out of step on the road to infidelity
TAKE THIS WALTZ
At 28, the actress/writer/director phenomenon Sarah Polley landed herself an Oscar nomination for her debut film Away From Her, as did actress Julie Christie. Now, for Take This Waltz, she has the equally excellent Michelle Williams, but Polley's latest tale of a wife transferring her affections doesn't hit the same highs.
Margot (Williams) is a wannabe author who writes promotional leaflets for Canadian tourist attractions. Her husband of five years, Lou (comic star Seth Rogen) writes cookbooks dedicated to chicken recipes. They live in a gorgeous house, have a lovely extended family, and everything is generally terrific, bordering on smug.
When she meets Daniel (Luke Kirby) on a work trip, sparks fly. They even live on the same street. Then Margot admits that she's married and nothing happens in a way that suggests something is going to happen terribly soon. With Hollywood's addiction to the love lives of singles and longmarrieds, Take This Waltz's story is refreshing on paper, but it collapses on screen.
Williams does her best to make Margot believable, but even her most winsome expressions belie the fact that there's no depth for her to explore. Everyone in this film is an outline, a brightly coloured silhouette that looks delicious for half an hour, but soon falls apart.
Margot and Lou's marriage feels more like a sketch than the product of five years. Small wonder Margot is tempted by the novelty of the sexy Daniel when she and Lou hardly seem to know each other.
Rather than letting the characters tell the story, Polley relies on wry visual signposting to knit together Margot's lot. The colour blue keeps turning up to helpfully underpin that Margot is miserable, gifted with the ability to choose just the wrong time to seek affection from Lou (on the phone to his publisher, wielding a saucepan full of scalding chicken stew), so she can wallow in feeling hard done by when she is rejected. If this 'teenagerish' behaviour is irritating for her husband, it's even worse for us.
Like an escapee from the Twilight novels, Daniel, despite being gorgeous and single, shows no interest in anything but holding a torch for Margot. Daniel falls for Margot the way girls wish boys would fall for them: because they exist, and have 'Interesting Spirits' if only someone would take the time to inspect them. Even Lou, his heart breaking later on, manages to wail that he was never good enough for her, while the audience does a collective eye roll.
Margot straddles the fence waiting to be pushed one way or another so she can indulge in a warm bath of 'Woe is me' without feeling any guilt. You start to wish that you could push her off yourself just to get the plot moving. Still, at least they all have lovely wardrobes and marvellous interior decorators – while the fi lm drags on, you really need something nice to look at. This Margot is 'All About Me', and it's knackering to watch.
Daily tip from the lady archive
"DEEPLY-ROOTED is the idea that men are indifferent to dress, while the ladies, God bless them, think of nothing else"The Lady, With Prejudice, 8th January, 1942